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Imagining Inclusion: Uncovering the Upstream Determinants of Mental Health through Photovoice

Colleen Reid, Maya Alonso


The purpose of this study was to better understand the lived experience of mental illness and factors that contribute to community inclusion, health, and wellbeing. Through the use of Photovoice, a community based participatory research (CBPR) methodology, participants visually represented factors that fostered inclusion. More significantly, however, participants used photography to capture major systemic and structural, or upstream, barriers to their active and meaningful participation in society, such as stigma and social exclusion. The participatory aspect of CBPR was itself empowering while it enabled participants to visually identify and explore upstream factors that profoundly shaped their lived experiences of mental illness. These findings point to the need for recreation therapists and other mental health professionals to expand from biomedical and behavioural interventions for individuals living with mental illness towards looking upstream to address the systemic and structural factors that impede individuals’ full participation in their communities.

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Community-based participatory research; determinants of health; mental health; Photovoice; therapeutic recreation

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